Where nautical meets naughty? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s in the Haut Marais district of Paris. Sounds a bit like Rodgers & Hammerstein’s, South Pacific, don’t you think? Thank goodness for all things, Saint James. I’m waiting for the big kahuna, Mai Tai in hand. Makes me feel like if a catch a wave, I’ll be standing on top of the world.
Earlier this morning, I begin fishing around in my mahogany chest for that Saint James jumper. You know the one, which flaunts horizontal stripes. I am feeling rather naughty today. Here awaiting my inspection is my favorite navy with red horizontal stripes. It is just the ticket to brave nature and be nautical.
Now, were I Jean Paul Gaultier, I’d dispense with my nautical Saint James jumper and paint my chest. My son claims that I never really grew up. What he is really pointing out is my continual love affair with striped nautical jerseys and sailing shirts with three-quarter sleeves.
Originally made for the French Navy, the Saint James sweater and shirt have been immortalized by the likes of Coco Chanel not to mention a whole bag of other celebs. Just think, this nautical style was loved by Picasso and Brigitte Bardot. The Japanese buy them by the box load. Just last weekend, I saw a gaggle clean out the store in back of Place de la Madelaine.
With the St Trop’ crowd, Saint James remains the nautical standard. Yes, I know there are others, but this one to quote Jeeves, “stands alone“. Speaking of Jeeves, I wonder what the blazes is keeping that man. I’ve been waiting for my tea for ten minutes now. Nothing rockets my engines better than a good morning cuppa.
If you are in France, be sure to put the factory where Saint James is still made on your must see list. The firm is located in Ducey. It’s the sort of place people dream of. What’s the term I’m looking for? Ah, yes. There it is: buccolic. It’s a fortified town of only 3,000 souls, and it straddles Lower Normandy from Brittany. It is a jewel of a region. It is also a hop, skip, and a jump from Mont Saint Michel.
Now, the Mont has always been part of the St. James logo. The coastal flats are still home to grazing flocks. Although the wool used no longer comes from here, they still manufacture in Normandy. When you visit, Yannick Duval, the company director will explain to you the fabulous evolution of Saint James, and how this region gave birth to a wealth of knitting expertise, which is still used. The people who work at Saint James are proud of their enterprise.
Did you know that 400 tonnes of wool are used per year?
I thought not. I am sure though that you do remember that it was Coco Chanel, who made the sea shirt into one of the hottest unisex styles of all times, when she first introduced them into her Deauville shop in 1917. The rest as they say in show business was history.
The French refer to this classic as the Mariniere. With years of experience under their belts, the company understands that both the wool and the cotton behave differently depending on the humidity in the air. Speaking of the wool, it is a natural fiber, which retains the original lanolin. It has a dry, some would say, rough feel to the touch. It is this sought after quality that makes the item indispensable to sailors and style mavens alike. Since workwear has been gathering more steam among the Fashionistas, it is no wonder that major designers such as Junya Watnabe and Jean-Paul G. continue to work with the firm.
Recently, I treated myself to another Saint James jumper in ecru wool with the navy stripes. Well, considering the damp climate, it made sense. The dry wool which is perfected and unique to this part of the world is ideal for European climate.
Listen to this: Did you know that each stripe represents a victory of Napoleon over the English at sea? Interesting, what! Such trivia makes owning these jumpers such a pleasure.
Ah, there’s Jeeves now with my tea, not too hot, not too cold, and not a drop in the saucer.
Article Title: Where Nautical Meets Naughty
Photographs: (1)(2)curated by ES (3)Saint James
About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.
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